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Vintage Electronics Buying Guide

Tags:  vintage electronics | vintage amplifiers | turntables | reel |  speakers Write a guide!

For many collectors and audio enthusiasts, vintage electronics are hard-to-find treasures. Some collectors have a passion for achieving pure audio sound, some use vintage electronics as a conversation piece, and others prefer to tinker with vintage tubes and electronic components as a hobby. Thanks to the enthusiast community’s high demand for hard-to-find vintage audio, these electronics products retain their value and make a solid investment. Someone is always seeking rare vintage electronics and eBay provides an ideal marketplace to buy, sell, and trade. You'll find a choice selection of vintage vacuum tube amplifiers, vintage turntables, reel-to-reel tape recorders, vintage speakers, 8-track players, and other vintage electronics on eBay.

Get to Know Vintage Amplifiers & Speakers


Get to Know Vintage Amplifiers & Speakers

Hook a vintage vacuum tube amplifier up to your hi-fi stereo system to get a warmer sound than modern digital amps. Vintage tube amps are easier to work on and fix than most modern electronics, but you need to know what you're getting before you pay. From mono and stereo amplifiers to integrated amplifiers, you'll find a wide array of choices, such as Fisher amplifiers, McIntosh amplifiers, Marantz amplifiers, Scott amplifiers, and Heathkit amplifiers on eBay. If you need a tube preamplifier, you'll find an impressive selection of McIntosh preamplifiers, Marantz preamplifiers, Dynaco preamplifiers, and Fisher preamps on eBay as well.

Take a look at vintage transformers

Vintage transformers were carefully crafted to allow the greatest transfer of sound. Modern-day high-end speakers replicate this process. If the amplifier doesn’t come equipped with an original transformer, make sure that the replacement matches the voltage, and that the output impedance matches your speakers

Choose vintage circuitry

Vintage amplifiers with all of their original parts sound best to most audio purists. However, replacement parts do not make a vintage amplifier any less useful. Ask the seller which parts have been replaced and decide if they're a big deal to you.

Buy up vintage vacuum tubes

Vacuum tubes wear out. Although most people seek out vintage amplifiers with their original vacuum tubes, you might have to replace the tube periodically if you use your vintage amplifier every day. You'll find a large selection of vacuum tubes and NOS tubes from brands such as RCA, General Electric, Western Electric, McIntosh, Siemens, Philips, Sylvania, Mullard, and Telefunken on eBay.

Select vintage speakers

Without good speakers, it doesn't matter how good an amplifier you buy. Buy vintage speakers, such as JBL speakers, Altec Lansing speakers, or Jensen speakers, with original cones in good condition. Celestion, Bulldog, and Jensen all make high-quality original speaker cones, too. A good set of modern speakers can also make your vintage amp sound great. Visit eBay's Speakers & Subwoofers Buying Guide for advice on choosing a new set of speakers that match your amp.

Vintage guitar amps

You'll find a large selection of vintage guitar amps in eBay's Musical Instruments category. If you need help evaluating guitar amplifiers, visit eBay's Vintage Guitar Amplifiers Buying Guide for tips and advice.


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Play Your Records on a Vintage Turntable


Play Your Records on a Vintage Turntable

Restore a vintage turntable or play back your old LPs and EPs and enjoy the low-fi hisses and pops offered by vintage Dual turntables, Pioneer turntables, Thorens turntables, and Garrard turntables. Turntables consist of three main parts: the platter, the tonearm, and the motor.

Rate platter material

Platters hold the record, isolate the tonearm from vibrations, and govern the speed of the record. A good platter is made from machined aluminum, a dense and inexpensive material.

Assess tonearm and cartridge condition

The tonearm holds the cartridge, which in turn holds the stylus (or needle). The stylus transforms the ridges in the groove of a record into sound.

When buying a vintage turntable, make sure the cartridge is in good condition. Cartridges will wear out, and using an exhausted cartridge can damage your vinyl

Find a prime motor

Vintage turntable motors come in three main varieties: belt drive, direct drive, and rim drive.


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Feed Vintage Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorders


Feed Vintage Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorders

Once you unearth your old reel-to-reel tapes, you need a reel-to-reel recorder from Teac, Akai, Sony, or Pioneer to play them.

Match vintage reel-to-reel tape to vintage recorders

Different reel-to-reel tape recorders work with different size tapes. Reel-to-reel tapes vary in size from a ¼-inch up to 2 inches. Most U.S. recordings were done on ¼-inch tape. Professional recording studios used 1/4-inch tape as well as 1/2-inch, and 2-inch tapes.

Discover supported recording techniques

Recording techniques vary from reel-to-reel tape. Most professional “half-track” stereo recordings store the left-channel on the left half of the tape and the right channel on the right half of the tape.

There are also quarter-track machines that record two channels on one side of the tape and two channels on the other side.

The two recording methods are incompatible, and you cannot play tapes made for one on the other.

Choose a recording speed

Consider recording speeds. Professional ¼-inch tapes are recorded at 7.5 IPS (inches per second) and 15 IPS. Typical tape speeds are 7.5 IPS and 3.75 IPS. Match the speed of your reel-to-reel tapes to the vintage reel-to-reel recorder you want to buy.


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Find Vintage Electronics on eBay


Find Vintage Electronics on eBay

Once you know what type of vintage electronics you want, go to the Consumer Electronics portal, click Vintage Electronics, and start searching for items on eBay.

  • Categories: The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for 8-Track Players, Amplifiers, Receivers, Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorders, Speakers, Tubes, and more. As you dig deeper into the site you'll also be able to narrow down your choice by brand.

  • Keyword search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find vintage amplifier, type "vintage amplifier" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.


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Buy Vintage Electronics With Confidence


Buy Vintage Electronics With Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that you don't receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection will cover your purchase price plus original shipping. Learn more.


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